Just when you thought you’d seen it all during your years in Isla Vista, the I.V. Circus comes to town.
Anisq’ Oyo’ Park was packed with as much oddity as it could handle Sunday, with nearly 200 eager circus-goers in attendance for a student-led circus. The event began with an opening act featuring a man in a tiger suit – and matching loincloth — being tamed by the event coordinator, Erin Rosenthal. Subsequent acts included juggling, belly dancing and tissue trapeze acrobatics reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil. The circus, dubbed “How Bizarre the People Are,” started at 5:30 p.m. and elicited a wide range of emotions from audience, ranging from delight to shock.
Rosenthal, a fourth-year biopsychology major, said she didn’t have to look far to find bizarre participants to join her circus. Most of the performers, she said, were UCSB students.
“I somehow found all these people,” Rosenthal said. “I don’t know, maybe they found me.”
The performers included undergraduates as well as a number of graduate students. Brian Camley, a physics graduate student, impressed the crowd with his skill juggling a glass orb.
“It was really fun performing in front of such a large crowd,” Camley said. “This is a great way to showcase another side of Isla Vista. It’s a side that you just don’t get to see every night on Del Playa.”
There were also performances by the UCSB Juggling Club – which included a nighttime fire juggling act – and the UCSB Belly Dancing Club.
One act, however, especially hypnotized the crowd: the sword belly dancing performed by Jessica Chernicki, a fourth-year theatre major.
“People always ask me if it’s a real sword,” said Chernicki. “It’s not sharp, but it’s hard to keep a huge metal object from being dangerous.”
The circus was put on almost entirely by Rosenthal, who received some funding from Associated Students.
“I think that it went way above and beyond expectations,” Rosenthal said. “It was bumbling, it was awkward, it was bizarre, but it’s that homemade feel that really gave it the charm and appeal.”
Kimberly Helling, a second-year literature major, also said she was pleased by the circus’s wacky ambiance.
“The whole thing was really cool,” Helling said. “Who knew that Isla Vista had so much circus talent? I really liked the tiger. He was probably the best running gag of the show. His loincloth was hilarious.”
Moreover, Alysia James, a third-year music composition major, said the circus lifestyle has appealed to her since childhood. The I.V. circus, she said, was a welcome alternative to her studies.
“Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be in the circus,” James said. “[My parents] like to think of joining the circus as my backup plan.”
Although Rosenthal will be graduating this year, she said she has big, freaky plans for the future of the I.V. Circus.
“I definitely think that this is the start of something big,” Rosenthal said “Hopefully we can make it even bigger and better in the fall. Right now it might be too soon to tell, but I think that people were very inspired.”